UAE Long Term Visas: Key details you need to know
With the UAE Cabinet approving new long term visa, announced earlier this year, this article aims to set out the details as well as the terms and conditions.
Investors, entrepreneurs as well as scientists, doctors and researchers, will be granted permission to stay in the country for up to 10 years as part of the plan.
The UAE Cabinet has also approved the introduction of long term Retirement Visas and long term Visas for outstanding Students.
For Investors, both within the UAE and abroad, the long-term visa can be divided into two categories:
- 5-year residence visa
Minimum investment of Dh5 million
- 10-year residence visa
Minimum investment of Dh10 million with at least 60% non-real estate investment i.e. public investment through new business partnership or addition of funds to an established company
Four Key Terms and Conditions:
- Entire investment amount to come from the investor, without any loans or financing – supporting evidence will need to be supplied for this
- The investment must be retained for a period of 3 years under standard liability and with a financial solvency not exceeding Dh10 million
- Investors will be permitted multiple entries to the UAE for a six-month period, whilst applying for the long-term visa requirements
- The long-term visa could also be extended to include business partners, (provided that each partner contributes Dh10 million), the spouse and the children, as well as one executive director and one advisor
For Entrepreneurs, the key requirements for long term visa are:
- A previous project with a minimum of Dh500,000
- Approval of accredited business incubator
Entrepreneurs will be granted a five-year visa with the possibility of upgrading to ten-year visa. An entrepreneur’s business partners, three executive directors, spouse and children will also be granted visas. Entrepreneurs will be given permission to enter the Emirates for a six-month period with multiple entry, and the option to renew for another six months, to apply for the visa.
Visas for specialists in science and knowledge
Scientists, doctors and researchers will be granted a 10-year visa. To qualify they must have:
- A valid employment contract in a specialised, priority field
- Doctors and Scientists must meet at least two of the following conditions in addition to holding a PhD degree and 10 years professional experience:
- PhD degree from one of the world’s top 500 universities
- Award/Certificate of appreciation for their work
- Contribution to scientific research
- Published articles or scientific books in distinguished publications
- Membership of an organisation which requires academic excellence
- Scientists must be accredited by the Emirates Scientists Council. Holders of the Mohammed bin Rashid Medal for Scientific Excellence are also eligible for the 10-year visa. Spouses and children will also be included under the visa for researchers, scientists and doctors.
From 2019, expats over 55 years old will be eligible to secure a five-year UAE retirement visa, based on the following criteria:
- Investment in a UAE property worth Dhs 2 million
- or have financial savings of no less than Dhs 1 million
- or have an active income of at least Dhs 20,000 per month
Outstanding Student Visas
Students who have earned a grade of at least 95 per cent in secondary school, and a GPA of at least 3.75 upon graduation from university will be eligible for a five-year visa. Their families will also be included on the visa. This visa can be eligible for 10-year if the student is deemed exceptional.
For more information on long term visas or company formation in the UAE, please visit the PRO Partner Group website or contact us on +971 (0)4 456 1761 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Chloressa Khatib is the Business Development Executive at PRO Partner Group. For further information about Freelancer visa in Ras Al Khaimah Economic Zone (RAK EZ) please contact Chloressa on
email@example.com or call a member of the team on:
+971 (0)4 456 1761 (Dubai)
+971 (0)2 448 5120 (Abu Dhabi)
#Investors, #entrepreneurs as well as #scientists, #doctors and #researchers, will be granted permission to stay in the country for up to 10 years as part of the plan.#UAE #LongTermVisa #Visa #ResidentVisa #ResidentPermit https://t.co/idjKSKFNeD
— PRO Partner Group (@PROPartnerGroup) January 3, 2019
Increased foreign ownership of companies in the UAE is now possible thanks to a new Foreign Direct Investment Law (Federal Law No.19 of 2018), which has now come into effect after being published in the UAE’s Official Gazette.
Aiming to promote and develop the country’s investment environment, senior officials have reported that this will boost FDI by up to 20 per cent across the next two years.
The UAE offers lucrative opportunities for foreign investment and the strengths of the UAE include its easy access to oil resources, low energy costs, a willingness to diversify the economy and a high purchasing power.
Foreign companies seeking to establish an entity onshore in the UAE would previously be required to partner with an UAE national shareholder, who would own 51 per cent or more of the shares in the company.
The new legislation provides the framework for the UAE Cabinet to permit foreign shareholders to own increased levels of foreign ownership (more than 49% of shares) in companies operating in certain sectors.
As per the law, a ‘Foreign Direct Investment Unit’ is to be established in the Ministry of Economy. The FDI unit will be responsible for proposing FDI policies, establishing a comprehensive database of foreign direct investment projects as well as licensing foreign direct investment projects and evaluating their performance.
In a report from Clyde & Co, it was noted that under the FDI law, foreign investment may be permitted in sectors of the economy that do not appear in a ‘negative list’ as follows.
- Petroleum exploration and production
- Fishing and related services
- Investigation, security, military sectors, and manufacturing of weaponry, explosives, military equipment and associated devices and uniforms
- Postal, telecommunications and audio-visual services
- Banking and financing activities
- Land and air transport services
- Insurance services
- Publishing and printing services
- Pilgrimage and Umrah services
- Commercial agencies services
- Labour and servant services, and recruitment of personnel
- Medical retail businesses (e.g. privately-owned pharmacies)
- Electricity and water services
- Poison control centres, blood banks and quarantines
The UAE Cabinet has the right to add or remove any sectors from this negative list.
The FDI Law establishes a ’positive list’ of sectors of the economy in which greater levels of foreign investment will be permitted. There is currently not one set list of sectors and it is expected that more detail will be released in the coming weeks. Clyde & Co have reported that the UAE cabinet may:
- Dictate the level of foreign ownership permitted, this could be 100 percent but could be less
- Place restrictions or requirements on the type of legal entity which may conduct business in the relevant sector
- Apply minimum capital requirements
- Enforce Emiratisation requirements
- Allow greater levels of foreign ownership than is currently the case in specific Emirates
It is reported that if an application for an increased level of foreign ownership in a sector on the positive list is successful, then a license will be issued by the Economic Department. In due course, further regulations will be issued, setting out the detailed procedures to be followed for registering and renewing the licence of a foreign investment company.
As a new legislation, the FDI Law is open to interpretation and it is not yet certain how FDI law will be implemented nor what degree of foreign ownership will be permitted in each sector.
Increased foreign ownership of companies in the #UAE is now possible thanks to a new #ForeignDirectInvestment #Law (No.19 of 2018), which has now come into effect after being published in the UAE’s Official Gazette.#FDIhttps://t.co/PVb2DjJJuw— PRO Partner Group (@PROPartnerGroup) December 30, 2018
What is ICV certification?
Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) implements In-Country Value (ICV) Program
ADNOC is one of the world’s leading energy providers based in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE. ADNOC is a catalyst for growth and diversification in the Emirate and is committed to driving forward socio-economic objectives.
What is ADNOC ICV – In Country Value?
The ADNOC company has launched an in-country value (ICV) program which is currently in its implementation stage. The program aims to drive optimal value from oil and gas reserves, increasing the ICV contribution and supporting the private sector to support growth and diversification of the UAE economy.
The procurement-led initiative for ADNOC’s suppliers will focus on three key areas; diversification through expenditure on local goods and services; personal development for UAE Nationals in the private sector and localisation of capabilities for critical supply chain functions within the industry. The ICV program offers suppliers new opportunities to conduct business with ADNOC group.
ADNOC’s capital spend over the next five years will generate opportunities for companies to grow alongside ADNOC, as international companies work more closely with SMEs to maximise use of local products, manufacturing, services and infrastructure.
As part of ADNOC’s ICV program, all ADNOC suppliers are required to declare their ICV achievement (ICV Certificate) and their certified ICV score for the previous financial year, demonstrating how they are helping to deliver ICV. Business partnerships with ADNOC include an ICV assessment as part of the tender evaluation and award process.
The evaluation will examine the capabilities of the business within the UAE in areas including; Export of goods manufactured in the UAE; Third party spend (Procurement of goods and Sub-contractors); Local investment; Emiratization of workforce and Expatriate contribution.
Suppliers will be required to complete the Supplier Submission Template and approach one of the ADNOC certification bodies to obtain their ICV certificates. The ICV audit will have to be undertaken by an authorised local audit firm.
Having a set up as a local Abu Dhabi LLC UAE Company with a 51% shareholder will increase your ICV score, although it will be necessary to obtain the ICV report for the 51% shareholder to get the full benefit. This is where using a corporate shareholder such as PRO Partner Group can assist. PRO Partner Group (PPG) already has full ICV registration and as such we can assist foreign companies in providing our own detailed ICV profile to combine with theirs.
For a 100% foreign owned Foreign Branch set up onshore, PRO Partner Group can act as the sponsor of the Branch. From preliminary discussions and detailed ICV scores to date it would appear that setting up as an LLC will generate a higher overall ICV score than a Foreign Branch, all other factors being equal, this is dues to the LLC being a true local UAE Company. It may be that some companies set up as a Foreign Branch at this stage may wish to transition to a full LLC if ICV is a significant consideration. There is a process to turn a Foreign Branch into an LLC – PPG can assist with this process and can additionally act as the 51% Local Corporate Shareholder, provide ICV support whilst ensuring the foreign company retains effective 100% control of all aspects of the Local LLC. Please contact a member of the Abu Dhabi team for further information.
ADNOC will continue to develop the ICV strategy by various initiatives to include; working with suppliers to develop their long-term ICV strategies, identifying appropriate categories for which only SMEs will be invited to tender and facilitating training workshops for Emiratis to increase employability.
ADNOC’s ICV strategy is an extension of its 2030 growth strategy to “create a more profitable upstream and more valuable downstream business, as well as ensure an economic and sustainable supply of gas.”
PRO Partner Group facilitates all the procedures and legalities involved in establishing and maintaining a commercial entity in the UAE, from Commercial Registration to Professional Corporate Nominee Services and Visas, Work Permits, CICPA Passes and more. Having assisted in the formation of over 400 companies in the Middle East, PRO Partner Group enable more businesses to capitalise on the regions prosperous economy.
For more information about ADNOC ICV Program, ADNOC and Supreme Petroleum Council (SPC) Approval as well as conducting business in Abu Dhabi, Licencing matters and PRO Services, please contact PRO Partner Group Abu Dhabi on +971 (0)2 448 5120 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
— PRO Partner Group (@PROPartnerGroup) November 5, 2018
The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED) has launched the first phase of its Dual Licence Initiative (DLI) announcing that companies operating in an Abu Dhabi free zone will be permitted to operate in both the capital’s free zones as well as establishing an onshore branch. The introduction of a dual licence will expand where companies can conduct business and improve the emirate’s competitiveness.
Aiming to attract foreign investment and drive forward the economy, the dual licence is part of the Dhs 50bn stimulus package announced in June (more info here https://www.propartnergroup.com/2018/07/abu-dhabi-economic-growth-investments/) This new dual licence initiative was welcomed by many in the emirate, benefiting numerous industry sectors to include services, trading, FMCG and financial consultancies.
In the first instance, the dual licence will be open to those companies headquartered in Abu Dhabi and based in one of its free zones, which include media zone Twofour54, Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) and Khalifa Industrial Zone (KIZAD) and the Abu Dhabi Airport Freezone and MASDAR. Companies under the licence can operate in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Dhafra regions. A second phase will be introduced, allowing more businesses to be eligible for the dual licence.
The dual licence will allow free zone companies looking to operate onshore and obtain a full DED licence without leasing a separate office onshore (the Freezone office will count against the licence) and without engaging a new local partner or sponsor (the Freezone will in effect become the sponsor).
Dual licensing will be available to LLC companies that are registered in one of Abu Dhabi’s free zones, it will not apply to entities registered as a Foreign Branch in such free zones. Note that Special Purpose Companies (SPCs or SPVs) will not be able to branch onshore.
The dual licence branch will not be issued with its own Establishment card or Ministry of Labour file and it will be the responsibility of the parent company in the Freezone to sponsor dual licence branch employees. Therefore employees may not obtain a full onshore work permits and visa allocation will count against the office space visa quota allocation within the Freezone. It is unclear at the moment as to whether the dual licences will qualify for certain regulatory approvals onshore, such as Oil & Gas, Health Authority, Education, Training and other similar requirements.
The initiative is part of the Department of Economic Development’s efforts in improving the ease of doing business in Abu Dhabi. It was reported in 2017 that the United Arab Emirates was ranked at 21 (the index ranks economies from 1 to 181, with first place being best) according to the World Bank collection of development indicators. Further, by encouraging companies to expand their work outside of free zones, the dual licence will increase contribution to the economy.
According to Abu Dhabi DED, companies who are eligible for the licence will need to present a non-objection certificate from their free zone to state that they do not have any other branches outside of the free zone as well.
It will be compulsory to appoint a manager of the dual licence branch. A power of attorney in favour of the manager will also be necessary to ensure the manager has sufficient authority to act on behalf of the dual licence branch. The name and activities of the onshore branch will need to match the Freezone company.
The approval process can take anywhere between 20 minutes and 2-3 days, if further approvals are required, dependent on the business activities. The cost of the dual licence is reported to be 80 per cent less than a standard licence.
The Dual Licence Initiative (DLI) aims to provide a more streamlined approach for free zone companies to operate onshore and to alleviate the costs and restrictions associated with onshore expansion. The DED has indicated that the second phase of DLI is underway and will aim to extend the eligibility for dual licences to a more diverse assortment of company types in the future.
Abigail Cuthbert is Operations Manager at PRO Partner Group in Abu Dhabi. PRO Partner Group provide Government Liaison and PRO Services, secure Local Sponsorship and advice on all Licencing and Corporate Matter to foreign companies and investors in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and the wider UAE.
For more information on the dual licence and application process or any other PRO or Licencing inquiry please contact Abigail at PRO Partner Group Abu Dhabi on +971 (0)2 448 5120 or email@example.com.
— PRO Partner Group (@PROPartnerGroup) November 4, 2018
The requirement to show AED 150,000 for Investor Visa Approval has been removed
Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development – AD DED – are now fully integrated with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – GDRFA – (Immigration Department) – the requirement to show AED 150,000 for Investor Visa Approval has been removed.
When applying for a trade licence in Abu Dhabi it was previously a requirement for individual foreign investors to show that they had AED 150,000 in a personal UAE bank account or that the company had AED 150,000 in a UAE business account to allow the individuals to be approved for an Investor Visa to hold shares in an Abu Dhabi Company.
AD DED has now removed this requirements and integrated the investor approval stage within the Initial Approval and Company Trade Name Reservation process.
At the Trade Name reservation stage the individuals are also registered with GDRFA and Investor Visa Approval is obtained at this stage. It takes about 7-10 working days to obtain the investor visa approval subject to security clearance checks – there is a small additional fee of AED15 for this process.
Once Investor Visa Approval is obtained, the company than then progress to Notarise the incorporation documents (MOA or NSA), rent a suitable commercial space and then obtain the full DED Trade Licence.
This applies to LLC companies (where foreign individuals hold shares in the 49%), or Professional Licences (Sole Trade / Establishment Licences) where the foreign person is the 100% owner, with a National Service Agent (NSA).
The DED System is now also linked directly with the Ministry Of Human Resources & Emiratisation – MHRE (Ministry of Labour) – and the company will obtain its registered Labour number after obtaining the DED Trade Licence. This file number is used for all staffing matters such as the Wage Protection System (WPS) and applications for Labour Quotas. Both the MHRE and GDRFA numbers will now be shown on the DED licence along with the Chamber of Commerce number.
The integration of these systems will significantly speed up the company formation time lines and the removal of the requirement to show AED 150,000 in a UAE bank account has removed a complicated hurdle in the process, this step was often a ‘chicken and egg’ issue where the individual could not open a bank account without the visa, but needed the account to obtain the visa. The AED 150,000 deposit requirement for investor/partner visas was removed in Dubai some time ago so this also brings Abu Dhabi in line with Dubai DED in this respect and will certainly significantly improve the process in the Emirate.
James Swallow, Commercial Director at PRO Partner Group. For any further details on these changes and for assistance with Company, Branch or Professional Licence formation in Abu Dhabi and the Investor Visa Process please contact James or a member of the Team at PRO Partner Group Abu Dhabi on
#AbuDhabi Department of Economic Development – #ADDED – are now fully integrated with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs – #GDRFA – the requirement to show AED 150,000 for #InvestorVisa Approval has been removed. https://t.co/muw0N7fTnV
— PRO Partner Group (@PROPartnerGroup) August 29, 2018